Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spicy Urad or Maash Daal Fry (hulled split black lentils)

*In some regions of the Hindi/Urdu speaking world, these are called urad or urid daal. In other regions, these are called maash ki daal. In Punjabi, these are maa di daal. The skin of this lentil is black, but once they are hulled or skinned, they are white. This is the same daal you use for daal makhni, without its skin. It is known as being very filling and heavy on the stomach. The hing (asafetida), lime juice, and the ginger shards in the recipe are supposed to counteract the heavy, gas inducing qualities of this daal. :D This recipe yields a tangy, spicy daal that contains dried red chiles, green chiles added at two stages, and ground red chile powder. You can reduce or amplify the amount of chiles as per your preference. I'd say this comes out medium-hot based on my taste.

To prepare the lentils:

For this recipe you need 1 cup of hulled split black lentils. Wash them well and soak them in water for 1 hour. Discard the soaking water, and add them to a pot in several inches of water. Allow the water to boil. Skim the starchy foam from the top of the water. Lower the heat and boil on med-low flame for 17-20 mins (test at 17 mins) until lentils are completely tender but not falling apart. Strain the lentils and set them aside.

Strained boiled maash ki daal.

The masala:

1/4 cup oil
1 pinch asafetida hing
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 whole long dried red chiles
1 purple onion finely chopped (lemon sized Indian onion, if it is a larger American purple onion, use half of it)
2 fresh green chiles chopped finely
1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
1 tomato finely chopped or 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder (zeera)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs lime juice (or to taste, I prefer a strong lime flavor)
salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

The masala.

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro (1/4 cup or so)
1-2 chopped fresh green chiles
optionally, matchstick ginger shards (about 1/2 inch sliced)

Heat oil in pot. When hot, add in hing and allow to sizzle. Stir in dried red chiles and cumin seeds. Watch for red chile skin color to darken a bit, then toss in the onions. Cook onions until they are looking golden and brown around the edges (+/- 7 mins). (Pro tip: If your onions look brown around the edges but raw and white in the middle straight away, turn down the flame.) Add in chopped green chiles. Add in garlic-ginger paste. Allow garlic-ginger to turn golden. Toss in tomatoes. Stir for a few moments, then add in all of the powdered masala except for the garam masala. Add in salt. Stir until the water is mostly dried up from the tomatoes and the oil has risen to the top of this masala. Turn off the heat. Add in garam masala. The masala is done. Now, add in the prepared lentils that you have kept aside. Stir gently so that they do not fall apart or become clumpy. Mix well. Now squeeze in/pour in your lime juice and half of the cilantro and some of the fresh matchstick ginger slices. Once again, stir gently. Transfer to a serving dish and add the remainder of the cilantro and the other garnishes.

A close up look: each grain of daal is separate.

Serve with hot puris, whole wheat roti, or corn flour roti (makkai ki roti).

OPTIONS: You can use this same recipe for hulled split moong ki daal. Follow all the same instructions, except boil on low for a full 20 mins during the lentil preparation stage. Some people find maash/urad daal too heavy on the stomach, so you could optionally make this lighter by mixing 1/2 cup moong and 1/2 cup urad daal if this is the case for you.

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